Homilette for January 18, 2008

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 8:4-7;10-22a)

The need of a king as the elders of Israel express in the first reading today may sound quaint to us. After all, modern society has gone far beyond government by a single ruler. However, the longing for a monarch signifies a desire implanted deep in every human heart. A king represents security so that the people can both work and rest in peace. Kings theoretically will judge the people fairly because they are endowed with abundant wealth to scorn the lure of bribes. Even more importantly, kings have armies to protect the people from marauders. We may not clamor for kings anymore, but we do seek all the security and more that kings once provided.

God tells Samuel in the reading that the people’s request for a king constitutes a rejection of Himself as their ruler. In pursuing social guarantees are we similarly denying God’s role as our provider? This is not a frivolous question as we see human society developing but devotion to God waning. We can phrase the issue differently for the sake of clarity. In buying health insurance, sending our children to the best schools possible, even getting cellular telephones in case of emergencies, are we putting our trust in human achievement rather than in God's Providence? Certainly, the resources we spend on these measures might be used to provide basic services to the poor as God dictates.

Just as God allows the Israelites to have a king, He can approve of our desire for social securities. Any rejection that He may suffer is the result of our pride not of our prudence. We become proud when we start thinking that we are independent of God, that we can thrive without Him, and that we do not have to heed His ways. Prudent people will always recognize that they are powerless over all contingencies, that God is ultimately in control of their destinies, and that they need to consider others’ welfare as well as their own. Along with striving to secure life’s necessities, people of faith will also kneel to pray for deliverance from evil.